Category Archives: Obama

Revitalizing Detroit with 50,000 Syrian Refugees

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It has been said that nature abhors a vacuum. The Obama administration’s policies around the world have created power vacuums with severe and often deadly consequences. These vacuums are profoundly impacting the Middle East and the rampage of ISIS and other terror organizations.

Today my focus will be on the massive numbers of refugees fleeing the chaos and violence of the Middle East and what this is likely to mean for the United States from a number of perspectives.

Millions of people are quite literally running for their lives and are heading to countries around the world. Make no mistake, this is a humanitarian crisis that pulls at people’s heartstrings, and rightfully so. As the grandson of a woman who was slaughtered in Poland during World War II, I understand how important it is for countries around the world to try to save lives.

Our primary concern, however, must be on how any actions to address this will impact the United States and its citizens. We will begin by considering the impact large numbers of refugees would likely have on American workers, particularly focusing on a proposal for the resettlement of 50,000 Syrian refugees in Detroit, Michigan.

First of all, the proposal for this program would come with a huge price-tag. Consider just how much the proposal admits this would cost:

Resettling Syrians in Detroit would require commitment and cooperation across different branches and levels of our government, but it is eminently feasible. President Obama and Congress would have to agree to lift this year’s refugee ceiling by 50,000. The State Department, which handles overseas processing of refugees, would need to open offices at the camps in Jordan and Turkey, determine eligibility and administer a lottery for resettlement. Homeland Security, which controls the borders, would have to carry out accelerated security checks, as has been done in the past for Vietnamese and for Iranian religious minorities. Health and Human Services would need an expansion in the $1.5 billion it budgets for refugee resettlement.

It is disconcerting that the proposal calls for “accelerated security checks” when a number of reports have made it clear that it is all but impossible to conduct effective screening of refugees coming from largely chaotic countries where the governments are hostile to the United States. To propose to speed up this challenging and often ineffectual program is likely to mean that refugees will be quickly given a clearance, creating the illusion of security. It must be remembered that the only thing worse than no security is false security.

On May 14, 2015 the New York Times published an opinion piece, “Let Syrians Settle Detroit,” that was written by David D. Laitin, a professor of political science and co-director of the Immigration and Integration Policy Lab at Stanford University and Marc Jahr, a former president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation.

Their focus was on how this would supposedly turn Detroit, a financially bankrupt “failed city,” into a successful city. Their piece begins with this paragraph:

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, has already laid the groundwork. In January 2014 he called for an infusion of 50,000 immigrants as part of a program to revitalize Detroit, and signed an executive order creating the Michigan Office for New Americans.

I wrote a commentary about this ill-conceived brain spasm espoused by Governor Snyder that was posted on the website “One Old Vet” under the title, “Partnership for a New American Economy” / Ganging Up on American Families.

The question that everyone should be asking is what is wrong with the “Old Americans” that the governor wants to bring in “New Americans”? Furthermore, how does he define an “American”?

The predication for my commentary was a January 24, 2014 Huffington Post article, “Rick Snyder: Fix The ‘Dumb System’ For Immigration” in which the governor was quoted as saying,

The status quo is dumb, and not fixing it for political reasons would be even dumber.”

To be blunt, we have a dumb system,” he said during remarks on immigration, using a phrase he’d repeat a few times. “Why would we build the dumb system that we have today to say, we don’t want you here?”

The article also contained this paragraph:

Snyder praised the Senate’s bipartisan immigration efforts last year, and has continued to argue that reform would be beneficial for the United States. He spoke Thursday in Detroit about the need for immigration reform, promising to request 50,000 visas over the next five years for highly skilled immigrants who would move to the city. In that speech, he similarly called the system “dumb,” including the failure to give work visas to people who receive college degrees in the U.S. “We have a federal program that tells them to get out,” he said Thursday. “How dumb is that?”

It is beyond belief that Snyder asked how dumb it is to not give work visas to 50,000 foreign citizens when tens of millions of American workers have lost their jobs and their careers and have given up looking for work. What is truly dumb, and in fact duplicitous, is Snyder’s idea that the solution to high unemployment and a city that has been turned into the modern version of a “ghost town” is to import foreign workers and provide them with opportunities while blithely ignoring his fellow Americans who did perhaps demonstrate that they were dumb by voting for him in the first place.

The idea supported by Snyder and the authors of the opinion article would be to repopulate Detroit devastated city, not by attracting displaced American families back to the city, but by importing tens of thousands of foreign nationals.

Detroit lost a significant portion of its population, its tax base and its industries because of a lack of political leadership, coupled with the outrageous immigration policies of the current administration that already admit more authorized foreign workers than the number of new jobs that are created.

We have already seen how the Somali community in cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota has been plagued by their young men traveling to Syria to join radical Islamic terrorist groups.

On February 28, 2015 I was a guest on Fox & Friends and interviewed by Anna Kooiman on the that situation in Minnesota and the broad issue of the risks to America’s national security that are created by our dysfunctional immigration system, especially where the political asylum program is concerned.

Concerns about terrorists concealing themselves within groups of refugees is hardly a new tactic and certainly is not limited to the United States. Consider this article posted on the Reuters website on May 20, 2015: “Italy arrests Moroccan over Tunisian museum killings.”

Here is the text of that article:

Italian police said on Wednesday they had arrested a 22-year-old Moroccan man suspected of involvement in the March 18 Islamist militant attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis that killed 20 tourists.

Police in Milan said the man, named as Touil Abdelmajid, had reached Italy on a migrant boat in February. The revelation could fuel concerns that militants hide among the thousands of refugees who cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Tunisia has said it has arrested the great majority of those responsible for the attack launched by a cell of 23 militants with overlapping allegiances to a number of hardline Islamist groups.

Tunisian authorities believe Abdelmajid had a role in both planning and carrying out the museum attack, according to Bruno Megale, an official in Italy’s special operations police unit.

He told a news conference that the suspect, who was living with his mother and two brothers in Gaggiano outside Milan, had been sought by authorities in several countries.

In Italy, the point of arrival for more than 30,000 of the 51,000 boat migrants who have reached Europe this year, the fact Abdelmajid came on a boat was seized upon by opponents of the government’s policy of helping migrants who near Italian shores.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party which polls suggest has the support of some 15 percent of the population, tweeted that migrant boat departures and arrivals should be stopped immediately.

“The terrorist arrested today in Milan arrived in Italy at the beginning of the year on a boat from Tunisia. The League has been complaining about this risk for ages!” Salvini said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned earlier this week that Islamist militants might be trying to “blend in among the migrants” as they try to reach Europe.

It was not immediately clear whether Abdelmajid would be sent to Tunisia for questioning.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi congratulated the police over the arrest, saying he was “proud of your professionalism.”

No rational person would open their front door to a stranger whose identity could not be readily identified. I recall that as a federal agent, there were times when my partner and I might knock on a door seeking to speak with the residents of a house or apartment. Because we did not wear uniforms, even though we displayed our badges and credentials identifying us as being federal agents, some people refused to open their doors and called the police. In those situations we calmly awaited the arrival of uniformed police officers who assured the residents of those apartments and houses that it was okay to let us in.

While time-consuming and a bit frustrating, we all understood that many people had concerns about letting strangers into their homes, especially the elderly living in high-crime neighborhoods. Some of these folks would apologize afterwards and say words to the effect, “I am sorry to have kept you waiting outside, but these days, you can never be too careful!”

We graciously accepted their apologies, knowing full well that their worries were not without justification. There are predators “out there” falsely claiming to be police, utility workers or even federal agents, who want to get into people’s homes to carry out what is now referred to as a “home invasion.”

Today the entire world has become a “high-crime” neighborhood with transnational criminals and international terrorists on the move, crossing national borders to carry out their crimes and attacks.

These obvious facts were not only a major theme of the 9/11 Commission report and findings, but were also emphasized by the staff of federal agents, from a variety of federal agencies, and the attorneys who were assigned to assist the work of the 9/11 Commission. To this point, one of the reports that the 9/11 Commission staff produced was the “9/11 and Terrorist TravelStaff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.” This report was one of several that members of the 9/11 Commission staff — the federal agents and the attorneys — wrote about the findings of the Commission, and then expounded on the weaknesses that were uncovered.

This report focused specifically on the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world, enter the United States and ultimately embed themselves in the United States as they went about their deadly preparations. The preface of this report begins with the following paragraph:

It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.

Page 47 of this report noted:

Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

Page 61 contained this passage:

Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists

In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.149 Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups.150 With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the “credentials” necessary to aid terrorist travel.

This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”

Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.

The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud — including political asylum fraud.

Here is an excerpt from that report that makes the above issues crystal clear:

Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.

In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.

Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.

Our political leaders know full well that the process by which aliens are admitted into the United States and are granted lawful status — whether we are talking about political asylum, lawful immigrant status or even United States citizenship — lacks integrity.

Consider that on February 11, 2014, a hearing was conducted by the House Judiciary Committee on the issue: “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?”

On December 12, 2013, a hearing was conducted on the issue: “Asylum Abuse: Is it Overwhelming our Borders?”

It is worth noting that the December 12th hearing limited its concerns to how abuse of the political asylum program was overwhelming our borders. In point of fact, this program has overwhelmed the entire immigration system in each and every one of our fifty states. Of course limiting the hearing to the issue of only “our borders” coincides neatly with the myth that all that our nation needs to do in preparation for a massive amnesty program, likely involving tens of millions of illegal aliens, is to secure our southern border.

Both hearings made it clear that there is a serious lack of integrity to the political asylum program. This important humanitarian program processes thousands of applications each year. Yet, the fraud rate in this program bears witness to the lack of integrity. Because USCIS cannot effectively identify fraud and take measures to counter this fraud, national security is compromised.

America’s enemies should never find in America’s kindness and compassion weaknesses that they can exploit to threaten America or Americans. Irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, the well-being of American citizens must come first.

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Obama turns the Middle East into the Wild West

You’ve got a problem — a security problem? Don’t sweat it. President Obama has an answer. He’ll arm you.

You say the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is attacking the Iraqi city of Ramadi? Stay calm. We’ve got it covered. Vice President Biden assured the Iraqi prime minister last Friday that the U.S. is fast-tracking AT-4 shoulder-held rockets and other heavy weaponry to Iraqi government troops — and their Iranian-backed militia allies. Of course, on Saturday, Ramadi fell to ISIS — which seized every opportunity to grab the U.S.-supplied arms left behind by the Iraqi army.

You say the Syrian government is dropping chlorine gas bombs on its own civilians again? Well, what are you complaining about? Obama already sent the Free Syrian Army 3,000 tons of M16A assault rifles from Croatia, M79 anti-tank rockets from Saudi Arabia and most recently BGM-71 TOW armor-piercing anti-tank systems. The problem is … those weapons that were sent to the moderate Syrian rebels, the Free Syrian Amy, somehow wound up in the hands of the al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra Front and ISIS.Now, you say Iranian-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen are lobbing rockets and mortars into Saudi cities? Keep your hat — I mean crown — on, King Salman. Obama is setting up “a dedicated Foreign Military Sales procurement office to process GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]-wide sales, streamlining third-party transfers, and exploring ways the United States could accelerate the acquisition and fielding of key capabilities,” or so says the White House press statement.

The problem is … the day after Obama promised military aid to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in return for their supporting negotiations toward the “Iran deal,” the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that “Yemen, Bahrain and Palestine are oppressed, and we protect oppressed people as much as we can.” Yes, you heard right: Bahrain.

Bahrain, a member of the GCC, is a small island state to the east of Saudi Arabia and to the west of Iran. The country is indeed home to an Iranian-backed Shiite group, Saraya al-Mukhtar, that has participated in rallies, protests, bombings and attacks on police stations controlled by the minority Sunni regime.

In making the statement, Khamenei now threatens to activate the Shiite rebel group Saraya al-Mukhtar and destabilize Bahrain. Since Bahrain is also home to the U.S. Fifth Naval Fleet, destabilizing Bahrain is probably not in the best interests of the United States.

So, the day after Obama met with GCC leaders to convince them to drop their opposition to the Iran deal in exchange for lots of things that explode, Khamenei signaled that Iran is escalating the Shiite-Sunni regional war to include Bahrain.

Up until now, Iran has primarily focused its efforts on maintaining control of (1) Syria through Syrian President Bashar Assad; (2) Lebanon through the Hezbollah, (3) Yemen through the Houthi rebels; and (4) Iraq through its ties with the Shiite-dominated government and Shiite rebels. Now, it will expand into (5) Bahrain.

Now, last month when Iranian ships sailed toward Yemen with advanced weapons for the rebels, the mere entrance of the USS Theodore Roosevelt into Yemeni waters sent the Iranian ships scuttling back home.

Commentators in Israel and the Arab world hoped that Obama would realize what flexing a bit of military muscle can do in the Middle East — that the president might embrace a strategy known as “deterrence.” The president didn’t. Instead, the president focused on partisan battles within the U.S. and tried to convince the GCC to embrace his Iran deal at the Camp David conference. The king of Bahrain, for his part, opted out of the conference, choosing instead to accompany the Queen of England to a horse race.

It is high time Obama reassessed his strategy. There is only one military superpower in the world today. There is only one sheriff in town. And that sheriff better put on his badge.

That sheriff can use deterrence to prevent Iran from delivering military supplies to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Saraya al-Mukhtar in Bahrain, the Syrian Army and the Hezbollah through naval and aerial threats. That sheriff can rally the U.N. and Western allies to put a stop to the Yemini war — and get a peacekeeping force on the ground. That sheriff can also monitor the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps activities in Iraq with hopes that Iraq doesn’t fall to Iran.

Understand, our pro-Western Sunni allies are fighting two major wars: one against Iran-supported Shiite radicals (in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and now Bahrain) and one against ISIS. They need our support to win first the one and then the other.

And remember, the U.S. does possess the military capability necessary to stand up to Iran. The U.S. can unite our allies behind such a move. And, of course, President Obama should prevent Iran from destabilizing the Middle East and from obtaining a nuclear bomb on — or off — his watch.

Friedman is an American-Israeli writer and editor in the fields of political science, history, and information technology.